What does it mean to be an herbalist?


What does it mean to be an herbalist? This summer our Extractionist and Lab Manager, Rachel Hessheimer attended the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference-Good Medicine Confluence. In this interview, she answers a few questions about botanical medicine practitioners and our role with the place we call home.

What is Herbalism?

Herbalism is an integrative study of Botany, Mycology, and Ecology, in relation to Ethnopharmacology, and the informed application of this knowledge for the holistic treatment of psychological and biological imbalances and dis-eases, individually and collectively.

When we think about disease, where should we start?

For us to better understand how to treat the internal dis-eases we are experiencing we must first observe the external dis-eases within our environment and communities. Where are our ecosystems out of balance? Where specifically has the equilibrium been disrupted in our relationships with nature and with ourselves?

How does our environment play a role in our health?

We are not separate from our environment. Our internal ecosystems mirror our external ecosystems. As humans who exist in nature with many other species, it is necessary for us to see ourselves as an interactive part within the whole. Nature does not exist to serve our needs, but rather we exist within nature, as cohabitants to experience what it is to live symbiotically within the whole, in the present moment. This observation is the primary and most relevant way for us to understand what dis-ease is and begin to create a treatment plan to reestablish wellbeing.

Speaking of our environment, why is it important for us to all be Environmental Stewards?

Environmental Stewardship is a call to action. This sense of stewardship develops when we realize that nature is not here to serve us, but rather that we are here to serve it. Its value is no longer equated to its quantifiable usable resources, but rather to its fundamental and essential role as our home. Therefore, it is important that we take care of our home. We must protect it, clean it, and maintain its wellbeing both physically and energetically. By doing so we can better interact with our environment and help facilitate and maintain happiness, health, and wellbeing.

What do you want the community to know about Herbal Practitioners?

As Herbal Practitioners, we are best able to help others in their healing through leading by example. For us to teach people how to heal themselves, we must first heal ourselves. We must cultivate intimate loving and caring relationships with the plants we work with, through ecological awareness and environmental stewardship, and teach those who come to us for guidance to do the same.